Calico Ghost Town is one of the few remaining original mining towns of the west. Donated to the County of San Bernardino in 1966 by Walter Knott (Knott’s Berry Farm) the town is now alive and well.
The streets that were once full of silver miners are now populated with tourists eager to explore all the town has to offer. Some of the things you can do here are ride the Calico and Odessa Railroad, take a tour through the Maggie Mine or go, Gold Panning.
Calico is perched up on a hill overlooking the Mojave Desert and on a clear day you can see for miles. Calico is a fun place to visit and if you are lucky you might even see a gun fight right on the main street.
Traveling to Las Vegas or on your way back from the Colorado river take a break and enjoy this historic ghost town.
Calico also makes a great day trip from just about anywhere in Southern California. Camping is also available with 261 tents and RV sites. There are many original buildings in Calico and it’s not hard to imagine what life was like back in the silver mining days.
A walk down Main Street Calico is like taking a trip back in time. This once busy mine town is now populated mostly by tourists. Visitors come from all over the world to experience a real live western Ghost Town.
At its height, Calico boasted a population of 1,200 people, and over 500 silver mines. Besides the usual assortment of bars, brothels, gambling halls and a few churches, Calico also supported a newspaper, the Calico Print. During the mid-1890s the price of silver dropped and Calico’s silver mines were no longer economically viable.
At one time, the Calico & Odessa Railway hauled supplies up to the mines and ore down to Yermo. These days the little train circles through the hills giving you a birds-eye view of old mines and the desert valley below.
With the end of borax mining in the region in 1907, the town became completely abandoned. The last original inhabitant of Calico before it was abandoned, Mrs. Lucy Bell Lane, died in the 1960s. Her house remains as the main museum in town.
In 1951, Walter Knott, founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, purchased the town and began restoring it to its original condition referencing old photographs.
Though five of the original town buildings exist today, many others were recreated as replicas of their originals on preexisting foundations. In 1966, Walter Knott donated the town to San Bernardino County, and Calico became a county regional park.
Calico is a registered California historic monument and is the “official state silver rush ghost town” of California. During the year, Calico has various seasonal events, and just about every weekend you can find some time of western entertainment going on at main street.
Calico has a campground run by the County of San Bernardino Regional Parks Department. There are 265 campsites with full and partial hook-ups as well as a group tent camping sites. Facilities include hot showers, restrooms, grills and fire rings.
There are also six cabins available that sleep up to four persons. The cabins are heated and air conditioned, but no pets are allowed. For larger groups, there are two bunkhouses one that sleeps 12 and a larger one that sleeps up to 20 persons.
Nearby Mountain Bike Trails and an off-road vehicle area are popular with day-trippers and overnight campers.
CAUTION: The mines in the Calico area are extremely hazardous and must not be entered for any reason. Calico Ghost Town is located off Interstate 15, 3 miles from Barstow. Look for the giant letters spelling CALICO that can be seen on the Calico Mountains behind the ghost town from the freeway.
Exit the freeway at Ghost Town Road and head for the hills. All roads are paved and there is plenty of parking. If you’re interested in historic places Barstow also has a real gem, the Harvey House Railroad Depot.
Barstow Outlets are a favorite stop for travelers between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and only about a 30-minute drive from Calico.